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Puma & The Dolphin - Oddball Fantasies 001 (Oddball Fantasies, 2021)



Brand new Belgium imprint Oddball Fantasies introduce themselves to the world with a superb audial experience from sonic wizard Puma and the Dolphin, with the music found within verging across all the plains of the Electronic Music spectrum.


Here at Endless Grooves, we certainly do enjoy music makers who come to us with a sound that always feels like it has more to say, and these utterances could either be in the form of quiet whispers or the loudest of exclamations. There's certainly a palette of styles within Electronic Music which emphasises the undulating, the concept that wavelengths and layers are the elements that drive the composition from its beginning to end, their movements and presence allowing for the slightest of changes to make a very deep impact. This kind of approach allows for multiple representations to be made, where differing languages all begin to intertwine together with the aim of providing morphologies which never stand still, but merely move onwards and upwards beyond into spaces that feel so evolved from the original outlays. To sit through an album's worth of music that makes these kinds of approaches is intensely satisfying, not only in terms of getting a good amount of value in regards to sonics but also in terms of replay value - there's so much to pick up on that returning to the music is an absolute given. Its a series of valleys, tundras and forested regions that become mapped out in our minds as we close our eyes and engage with the world being painted, one that points to the natural world as much as it does to the most disconcerting of dance floors, you know the ones where those involved really do want to see the ceiling get blown away and for all the heavens to be revealed. Genre wise the approach also allows for a loose feel to be imprinted into proceedings, in that the vibe can jump from one notion to the next with a particular saunter, the rhythms and melodies pointing to numerous contexts and spaces that persist within our own lexicon of knowledge and beyond into the unknown. To immediately be met by sounds that create these feelings is one of the most enriching there is, like a path is being set out for us to canter along but with multiple branches being found along the way as to keep our heads in the skies and our feet firmly on the ground. No matter how you feel when you leave the experience behind, there's so many moments to savour and revel within time and time again, and in the end isn't that the kind of experience we all crave when it comes to any form of Electronic Music? we certainly think so.


For quite some time now, the mysterious Bulgarian producer Puma and the Dolphin have been purveying the kind of vibes that we talked about in the introduction, with their particular take on open ended and deeply intriguing dance music certainly a style that lingers long in the memory. The vibe remains one that feels overtly open ended, its feel moving from one structure to the next with a particular grace and elegance, with all manner of notions it seems being reflected within the structures that flow our way. Their music is deftly refined and seamlessly elegant, with Dub, Leftfield and Experimental notions all making key contributions to the overall themes that emerge from each record that they have released under the name. The music contains some beautiful frequencies and switches in thought, tone and texture, where elements combine and collide with one another expertly, the layers of which always find the time to move and groove in tandem with one another. The experience of being locked into one of their records is utterly mesmerising, as shades of feeling and expansiveness continually float our way as we journey from one point to another, a flawlessly balanced meander that reaches out and touches upon all it remains willing to. We simply follow the narrative being conveyed, one that goes above and beyond in showcasing to us just how in depth certain producers are willing to go in regards to pushing our world view just that little bit wider. The records that have been released under the Puma and the Dolphin name are almost as whimsical as the name itself, with our favourites including the gorgeous tear inducing 'Primitive' EP, which landed in 2019, and the outward looking and constantly searching 'Indoor Routine' record, which landed last year. Puma has also featured on 4 of the DJ Sofa curated 'Elsewhere' compilation series, with the tracks found on these records also speaking so elegantly and purely. In all, there's a world of experience to be found within the music originating from the Puma discography, with an open ended approach to style and composition meaning that every new release feels bold, invigorating and deeply engaging. We are simply swept off our feet, our minds and feet taken along for a ride that touches upon numerous corners of the Electronic and Dance music spectrums before slamming home into a space that feels fresh yet familiar. We become interlocked between the grooves, enticed to dive deeper into a world where rhythms know no bounds and the melodies move in and out of time with such effortlessness, with the context verging between spatial outlays and dazzling cosmic skies. Its a sound that feels boundless and timeless all at the same time, its thoughtful approach to composition meaning that a journey is always undertaken, and the listener is always swept along within a sea of luscious vibrancies. Short and sweet, but indefinitely deep, Puma and the Dolphin's works are there to be appreciated by all, and we throughly recommend you go and check them out when you can.


And now we arrive at the latest offering, 'Oddball Fantasies', which lands on the freshly formed imprint of the same name. Much like with the previous works, this record sees the overarching style presenting itself at a canter rather than a gallop, the tones and textures easing themselves into proceedings softly and without breaking a sweat, as elements swirl around the sink in order to immerse themselves in the undercurrents. Dub, Downtempo, Leftfield and Experimental vibes emerge as the flavours of the day, but as always the way in which the ingredients are mixed together remains almost wholly unique to this recording, as if Puma has deconstructed then rebuilt the foundations just for this slice of wax. Each tune acts within its own sphere whilst also contributing enormously to the overall experience, as we slide from vibe to vibe with all the best feels in the world. Sun kissed, star lit, there's a lot here to chime along to, with heads in the clouds and feet on the ground, and on that note lets dive into this marvellous slice of music.....

Up first comes ‘What I Mean’, and the immediate outlay is feverishly enticing. The keys cascade down in little layered sequences on both sides of the pan, with the middle section being utilised for when these melodic notes wish to expand a little bit into the blend being created, like a quiet vortex that feels itself drawing power from all sides. The track continues to grow with the introduction of the kicks within the drumming pattern, and this is when a hefty amount of variations and solos begin to make themselves known within the blend being presented. The flickering notes mesmerise with their sludge like cosmic ness, neither on the ground or in the sky, simply travelling on some kind of celestial plain with only one goal in mind - to expand our understanding of consciousness. The track takes a little dip in energy to provide space to the emergent key solo that rises above the rest, but this pause doesn’t last too long as we emerge victorious into the rhythmic section. This time however the convergences are less dense, with more space to be found within the v shaped grooves, and this segment leads us into the final act of this beautifully conceived piece of music. What an opener.‘Toys Noise’ arrives next, and this one begins with the drums to get things moving. The drums land with plenty of reverb and texture, as once again the spaces between really do create a brilliant amount of intrigue, and as we become enamoured with this layer we start to see all manner of wondrous vocal samples slid in and out of view up top. These are joined by a repeating series of keys that find their way into the top ends of the mixture very smartly indeed, and as time slinks on by the track passes through differing states and densities to great effect. The progression is found in the gentle undulations, the subtle removals and additions that constantly peak and trough, the wavelengths that feel regular but never crash and dip the same way as the last, and its these little pieces that keep the mind ticking over. The dip in energy towards the end of the cut only serves to emphasise the meaning of delicately revealing the groove, and this track achieves this superbly.

‘Talking and Listening’ lands shortly afterwards, and this one begins in similarly intriguing territories to the previous cuts. The bass line is immediate, working its way into a nice little rhythmic pattern alongside the captivating drumming line, which swerves from one side of the pan and back again with a real sense of dynamism. The track serves and grooves within this hazy, sludge like tonal atmosphere, with the heat rising up from the sheer density of certain passages as we continue to push further into the frequencies. The dips in energy once again provide a nice sense of rhythmic breakup from the long drawn out unravellings, and help to keep the pulses flourishing. We continue to bob from side to side, content to allow the music to wash over us with all its got, never for one moment feeling like we should leave the journey, but simply go along with it until the end of days. So much to find within on this one, glorious. To wrap things up, we have ‘Young In The Woods’, and this one begins in a suitably uptempo space. The drums contain plenty of elements that add texture and feel, almost like a glossy layer that adds individuality and character into the mix, with this notion being furthered by the swell in melody that arrives just before the 2 minute mark. The inspired bass lines merge with flutes solos, glassy chords and deep atmospherical pads, all the while this non-sensical conversation meanders along the top ends, and its just glorious. The track then breaks it down even further into a funky as hell segment, with bouncing bass and early 90s style House chords sprinkled up top, but like that we revert back into the groove, which remains just as compelling as it did when things started up. The melodics make a final appearance towards the end, and its a final reminder to never take things for granted, or expect the expected, instead keep your eyes open and head held high, and put on a record as good as the one we have just experienced.


Unravelling the bigger picture is quite a task within Dance Music, and can be achieved in a myriad of ways, but to do so within a singular song is quite the feat indeed. Puma and the Dolphin have been engaging with this kind of approach for some time now, and every album they have released we have always found something new to sink our teeth into, as the notions swing from left to right and back again with a feverish intensity. This new album is no different, with the rhythms continuing to inspire and the melodic features making their presence very much known throughout, with both these sequences grooving along with such purpose and presence. Each cut displays a differing side to the audial equation, with fine tuned and sultry percussive patterns helping to underpin a wide range of melodic feels up to, and the result is a record filled to the brim with character and passion. A record that would kick start any kind of sweat box dance fest, or simply as a soundtrack to a quiet moment of reflection, and to be honest anything inbetween, you'll always find yourself wondering through the deepest recesses of the mind, forever searching for the special feeling that the contents of this album will make you feel. Incredible, in every sense of the word.


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